About Cotswold Canals Connected
The Cotswold Canals Connected Project will link the Stroudwater Navigation from The Ocean Railway Bridge at Stonehouse to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal at Walk Bridge near Saul Junction. The Project is approximately 4 miles long consisting of 3 miles of defunct navigation and 1 mile of navigation (the “missing mile”) that will be created from arable and pasture land between Eastington and the A38.
Improved wildlife enhancement and conservation
Restoration of the Stroudwater canal has the potential to make a significant contribution to biodiversity by providing new waterway and adjacent habitats, and by re-forming an important link between habitats along the River Severn in the west and those in the valleys of the Cotswold escarpment to the east. The restored canal will form a linear mosaic of habitats including woodland and scrub-edges, hedgerows, traditional orchards, flower-rich towpath verges and diverse emergent “reedy” fringes. The River Frome already provides this west-east link. Running approximately parallel to it, the canal will complement this and will effectively widen the river valley for wetland and riparian species, providing greater diversity and resilience to future change.
Cotswold Canals Connected is focused on restoring the local environment and creating an array of habitats that achieve a net positive gain for biodiversity. Cotswold Canals Connected is using the canal restoration to link and enhance the natural features and wildlife habitats of the fragmented landscape from Saul Junction to The Ocean, Stonehouse. This commitment has led to the development of a ‘Working with Nature’ strategy.
Cotswold Canals Connected wants to work with nature by:
- Making the most of the project’s location in a wildlife corridor
- Keeping knowledge of the state of local wildlife up-to-date
- Minimising disturbance to wildlife areas
- Creating new habitats
- Building best practice in wildlife protection into canal restoration
- Ensuring wildlife and biodiversity are woven into all project themes
- Embedding wildlife features in canal design
- Joining adjacent land to the canal wildlife corridor
- Partnership working with landowners
Engaging People and Communities
A key element of the success of the Working with Nature strategy will be engaging people and communities in the natural environment and wildlife conservation opportunities created along the canal-river corridor. The Cotswold Canal Connected Project will coordinate a broad range of activities for a variety of interests ranging from spending time in nature for health and well-being to building wildlife habitats and/or being involved in species or other environmental monitoring.
Whittington Community Orchard
The Cotswold Canals Connected will provide a fantastic opportunity for local people to engage with wildlife through community-led conservation and biodiversity projects. One such project is the Whitminster Community Orchard, which aims to restore a traditional orchard that sits adjacent to the canal. The restoration of the orchard will create a greater sense of ownership of the natural environment amongst the local community and a greater responsibility for protecting and conserving it.
Over 75% of Gloucestershire’s orchards have been lost in the past 50 years as farming practices have changed and land has been cleared for development. Earlier this year Anna Tarbet, the Canal Environment Manager, led a community orchard day to help local residents plant rare Gloucestershire apple trees, have a go at apple pressing, find out how to grow fruit trees and learn about the history of orchards.